#BookReview Half Done Fun by Katja Vartiainen

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Half Done Fun by Katja Vartiainen is a unique book for all of your doodling fun!

This book is seriously fun! I always liked drawing, colouring and painting when I was younger but slowly lost it as I got older (and had less time to do all the fun things I did in my youth).

There’s helpful tips and suggestions, which helps a lot! You aren’t expected to go in blind, and like the title suggests half the picture is done already! The drawing skill is said to be eleven years old or higher, but I know a few members of a younger audience who probably could have completed the pages with 1000 times more skill than I did. I think you’d just need a “mature” audience who could hold their attention on the book.

Some of these pictures were fun examples I did well on – the candle and the couch/love seat. And then there were more difficult ones – snowflakes, headphones, and a bell. There were also varying themes, so those select pictures were just from the beginning of the book. Not gonna lie, I liked the top hat and the tea pot even if mine looked a little silly. There were also some faces (which I have never been good at drawing, and my skills has clearly not improved magically) for those of you brave enough to tackle some realism. There is a large variety of different faces, genders, race, and identifying features which added some depth to this book.

On top of that, there’s also some animals (which I have yet to tackle, but believe me… I’m going to try… eventually… and hide the pictures because my talent isn’t drawing…). The eagle and the seal are by far the coolest ones!

So, there’s some variety. Some pictures are definitely “easier” than others (depending on your drawing skills, of course). I would love to see books like this used more in art classes and for children’s fun (instead of just playing on smartphones all day). In my childhood art classes the picture was always on a board and we had to draw the second half on our paper. Having options like this book would have made those art classes a little bit more successful!

Overall, this book is serious fun! I enjoyed playing along (even if I haven’t finished the whole book yet – I will slowly work my drawing skills and get better). This book could be a great activity over time with your kids, or as an adult who wants to build on their drawing skills. I think you could somehow manage to get the entire book done in one sitting, but I’d recommend using this for some long term fun!

Five out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the author Katja Vartiainen in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the book:

Half Done Fun is an entertaining drawing/doodle book that makes it easier for those who want to practice their drawing and observation skills. It offers symmetrical (or closely symmetrical) things, humans, and animals that are half drawn so you can focus on finishing the other half and not worrying about ‘what to draw’. For children over 11 years and adults, as well.

Check out this book on:

Goodreads – Goodreads – Half Done Fun

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Half Done Fun

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Half Done Fun

 

Find out more about Katja on her website: http://www.artist-katja-vartiainen.de/

Or give us both a shout out on Twitter! @KatArtPics & @ReviewAlholic

 

Comment below – do you like art and drawing?

 

Photo from Goodreads.

#BookReview Life of Pi by Yann Martel

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I have been yearning to read this book for a long time. Everyone I spoke to was obsessed with this book to the n-th degree, so I figured I might feel the same way once I read it.

I was highly mistaken.

I found this book to be slow moving and boring, even though it is well written. This book was just not for me (which happens, by the way. Not every reader has to like every book ever written). That being said, I still wanted to give it a quality review. For me, the stars are low – but keep in mind this book is still excellent and the idea was intriguing.

To keep the plot short: A boy is trapped on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger after his family was trying to move their zoo animals across the sea. Tragedy strikes, and now Pi (our lead) is stuck with Richard Parker (our cat).

I found that this story went in many different directions. At first, this story seemed to be all about animals and how Pi’s father ran a zoo. I thought there might be more information in regards to him opening a zoo in the future, or having some great story arc involving it. Unfortunately, this didn’t go very far. It seemed to just be an introduction into the character rather than making it an integral part of the story (except for the animals on the lifeboat, of course). Then religion is thrown into the mix!! Pi enjoys practicing three different religions and this causes strife with his family, and then the plot point is essentially gone. There could have been lots of room for improvement in this discussion further along in the book, but all we get is that Pi is “praying” a lot. To me, having all of these opportunities to follow through with these plot lines was a bit of a waste. Why just have these points as an intro to the character? Why not use them to your advantage?

I also found this book to be SO FREAKING SLOW AND BORING. It’s inspirational, but when it’s close to two hundred pages of “stuck on a boat, send help, I am praying, there’s a tiger, i need to drink water” over and over, it gets a little tiring.

When I look at other reviews and theories about this book, I understand the theme is about religion. You can pick your story to follow God – just like picking apart this book. There’s multiple stories to follow, and you can pick the one you like. I don’t know how I feel about this theme and the way it is presented, but it worked.

This book also has some gore in it, so if you don’t want to read about an animal being ripped apart in description then this book might not be for you!!

Pros:
1. The chapters are short – I like when books don’t make long chapters. Having a chapter that lasts one hundred pages tires me out. Having the opportunity to stop where I want to with a small chapter is a nice quality about this book.

2. The cover – The cover is absolutely gorgeous. It’s simple, it’s colourful and it gets to the point. I appreciate a well thought out cover.

3. Beautiful language – Yann Martel can present a scene well with his words. There are some moments in this book where I got lost in his choice of words.

Cons:

1. Slow and Steady doesn’t always win the race.

2. Religion. This seems like a bad place to put it, but I know many people who would lose their minds having religion be a theme in the book (some would have it as an AMAZING PRO). That being said, I’m putting it in cons because of the strife it may cause some readers. There’s also times I think that religion was mentioned to much, like the author was trying to hit us over the head with it. Just because you leave religion out for one page doesn’t mean we’ll forget about it!

3. The story drags with the same thoughts and concepts.

Overall, this book was not my cup of tea. It is beautifully written and was a unique take on religion I hadn’t seen before. I had high hopes and expectations for this book, but it didn’t bode well for me. I blame a lot of the really great reviews and everyone saying it was the best book ever to make me have such high expectations, but putting the blame on them really won’t get me anywhere, will it?

Two out of five stars.

 

Did you enjoy this review? Why not check out another you might enjoy? #BookReview Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh

Check out Yann Martel on twitter! @WriterYann

Give me a shoutout on twitter! @ReviewAlholic

 

#BookReview Literature® by Guillermo Stitch

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Literature is a unique read that whisks you away to a dystopia where fiction is no more!

The writing style and plot line of this book work so well together. I had never imagined a plot like this, and I loved it’s creativity! Guillermo came up with such an interesting idea and it’s not to be missed! This book can be seen as a drama or comedy in my opinion, or a lovely brand of satire.

Billy’s life felt like it could have been a short black and white or noir film that we’d see at Cannes or a big festival. I would love to see more in this universe, because the critique of art was so cool! I couldn’t see the ending coming, which was also a nice change.

I highly recommend this read! It makes fun of today’s art yet feels like something that could happen. The word choice by Guillermo also paints this story’s beautiful picture inside of your head – I felt like I was in the story. This commentary on today’s society is a must read from me!

Four out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the book:

We don’t know exactly when Literature® takes place and we don’t know exactly where. All we know is that Philip Marlowe would fit right in. We don’t get Marlowe though. We get Billy Stringer. And Billy is on nobody’s trail. He’s the prey. The day hasn’t begun very well for Billy. He just messed up his first big assignment, he’s definitely going to be late for work, his girlfriend won’t get back to him and, for reasons she has something to do with, he’s dressed like a clown. Also, he’s pretty sure someone is going to kill him today. But then, that’s an occupational hazard, when you’re a terrorist. He’s a bookworm too, which wouldn’t be a problem–or particularly interesting–except that in Billy’s world, fiction is banned. Reading it is what makes him an outlaw. Why? Because people need to get to work. It’s fight or flight time for Billy and he’s made his choice. But he has to see Jane, even if it’s for the last time–to explain it all to her, before she finds out what he has become. That means staying alive for a little while. And the odds are against him.

Publisher: Nineveh Editions

You can check out the website at www.guillermostitch.com 

Find Guillermo on twitter! @GuillermoStitch

And give me a shout out on twitter too while you’re at it! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

Comment below – what is your favourite novella?

#BookReview Pop Sonnets by Erik Didriksen

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Pop Sonnets was perhaps one of the best reads in sonnets, aside from the wonderful William Shakespeare himself!

This wonderful set of poems has sonnets based on many pop culture hit songs. Each sonnet is written in the typical Shakespeare form (or English form) “a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g.” All of the sonnets flow smoothly and do not seem to be to cheesy. Also, each sonnet fully describes the song it is based upon.

I absolutely loved this book! Each sonnet gave me a chuckle as I read them. It seemed as if Shakespeare could have written them himself!

Five out of five stars! I saw nothing wrong with this wonderful book of sonnets! I loved it!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Enjoy this review? Check out another book you might enjoy! Book Review: PAPER IN THE WIND by OLIVIA-MASON CHARLES

#BookReview Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

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Here’s another #ThrowbackThursday – a novel I read years ago, but reread and created a review for!! This is one of my favourites – Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare.

 

 

Clockwork Princess is a beautiful finish to one of YA’s best series in recent years.

For years I waited anxiously for a book like Clockwork Princess – a story that ends beautifully, perfectly and without total heart break. With characters as strong as Jem, Will and Tessa, we needed a solid ending that would make all fans happy but also tie up the story just perfectly, and Cassandra Clare delivered.

This book will pull at your heartstrings and destroy you. It’s such a beautiful ending it’s hard to believe it’s all over with. The ups and downs of this series is ended just perfectly that there are no loose ends and no destroyed fans (at least, from what I’ve seen). I dare say that this book is the best book Cassandra Clare has ever written – it rivals the base Mortal Instrument series, and has one step up. This book was even better than City of Heavenly Angels, in my opinion. With such a satisfying conclusion, I have to say it deserves more than five stars. Not many books can be finished so perfectly.

Would I recommend this series? Absolutely. While it’s a YA, it definitely doesn’t feel like your typical YA story. Adults can enjoy this – there isn’t as much ooey, gooey silly teenage angst that is in most YA books. It’s a grown up YA with the odd silly scene. So it’s safe to say it’s a good read. This series can also be used as a standalone – you don’t need to read all the other series (Mortal Instruments, Dark Artifices) to understand this book at all. It is the prequel series to The Mortal Instruments, if you’re interested in reading further (they can be read out of order via the series though. TMI came out first, then this series and now The Dark Artifices). I would suggest reading the three books of this series in order though – it’s worthy.

It also has one of the most beautiful covers. I love the original cover – I saw a new one at my local book store recently and it wasn’t as beautiful, but in terms of cover art – judging the book by it’s cover it allowed for this book. With such a great cover comes such a great story.

Problems with this book/series:
Yes, there’s a love triangle. Can they be annoying? Yes. Does it work in this book? Yeah, it’s YA so it’s kind of an expected plot twist these days.
Weak characters – yeah, there are some. But personally, I find having all characters be strong can make for a boring book.
Repeat characters – Cassandra Clare uses the same characters/developments with different names and faces. It’s annoying, but as long as you aren’t just reading her books and expand your library, you don’t notice to much.
Rule Breakers – some of the “cannot be broken rules” are broken in this book. It’s kind of annoying in my eyes, but what can you do? It created the happy ending most fans wanted, so I guess we can over look that…
Tessa – FINALLY we learn what Tessa is. I’m a little disappointed it took so long because it would have been cooler to flesh out all about her throughout the series, but whatever, it works, I guess.

So, overall, this book is really on the fence for most readers – people either love it passionately to no end (ugly cry, putting the book on a pedestal and praying to it sort of deal) or hated it (rip the pages out, burn the book, demand a refund, etc). I’m on the end that enjoyed it and I definitely kept the book (Look at that cover, how can you not love the book for the cover alone?).

So, I will give it five out of five stars. It had it’s faults for sure, but it was a great read that kept me interested, was fast paced, and had an ending that I found to be good.

Enjoy my reviews? Check out my Goodreads page! Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

Give me a shout-out on Twitter! Let me know your recent reads!!! Or give me some recommendations!  Briar’s Reviews on Twitter

#BookReview Rogue Affair by Adriana Anders, Tamsen Parker and more!

Hot and sexy young couple in love embracing

Dedication of a Lifetime by Tamsen Parker

I’m torn – I don’t know how to feel about this story. I enjoyed it, but at the same time I was hoping for a little bit…more? Let me explain – I have many points!

1. I love Tamsen Parker and her writing style – she matches with me so well. So writing style wise, I really enjoyed this story. It is smooth and flows easily, which made it easy to read. She gets point for that.

2. But…I felt like there wasn’t much of a plot. It felt more like a discussion, a few random situations, and lots of “sexy time”. I couldn’t see the plot line this story was following. It just seemed to random for me.

3. That being said, this may not have been the best time for me to read it. I’m incredibly frustrated at the moment and I thought some reading would help me. Also, the tablet I read it on now has a random crack and that put me in an even worse mood – so I kept looking at the little crack in my screen as I read it…. Sooooooo… I think I just threw all of my frustration at this story. I picked it apart WAY more than I typically do when casually reading. So keep that in mind…

So, in summary – this book is another great read by Tamsen Parker. It’s an easy, contemporary (yet really sexy) read that is great for one sitting. It’s nothing mind blowing – no crazy “Inception” like plots to follow, it’s just a casual read. Which means, if you are looking for a nice, easy read that involves some heavy romance – you’ve got it!!

Four out of five Stars.

I also read through some of the other stories, so I will rate them as followed:
Ainsley Booth’s Personal Proposal – 4 stars.
I have never read anything by Ainsley Booth before (not that I can remember, anyways) and I think I might have to pick up a few of her books/stories. This story was definitely within my my interests.
Side note: AND SHE HAS A CANADIAN EROTIC ROMANCE SERIES?! I’m totally in. Where can I find this lady’s books?!

Olivia Dade’s Work of Heart – 3 stars.
I spent way to long spelling Olivia as Olicia as I tried to write this review.
This story was cute and I enjoyed it! I just found that this story didn’t wow my socks off. I would like to read more by Olivia to give her a chance because she seems like a really great author. I liked her writing style and the story moved at a good pace for me. I think if she had more room & chapters to expand her story, I would REALLY like her writing.

Kris Ripper’s The President’s Protector – 3 stars.
I’m not super crazy into political romances, but this story was a good read. It was very casual, and flowed easily. I liked Kris’s ability to build characters within this short amount of time – I just don’t think this specific story if my (personal) cup of tea. I would definitely suggest readers giving this story a try because it is REALLY good.

Amy Jo Cousins’s Fallacies & Flirtations – WAS NOT IN MY COPY. It’s in it when it’s released. I’m kind of sad, I won’t lie…but hey! You can’t have everything, can ya? 😉

Emma Barry’s The Fourth Estate – 4 stars.
I liked this story! I thought it was really sexy and I am determined to find more stories by Emma Barry! I love anthologies like this where I can find new authors easily by just reading little snippets of their work!! I really enjoyed reading about Drew and Brynn and their strange relationship. I would have loved for this little concept to be an entire book, because the writing was just fantastic!!

Adriana Anders’s Such Great Heights – 4 stars.
Adriana Anders is another author I HAVE to read more by. I keep falling in love with her little stories – so at some point I will read her books!!! Adriana has a lot of writing talent – her writing isn’t exactly my “style”, but I still get hooked and addicted. It takes quite a bit for an author to do that – so I’m impressed! The story is smooth, it moves fast enough to keep my attention held and it’s well written. Four stars Adriana!! Looooove it!

Kelly Maher’s Dissent and Desire – 3 stars.
Kelly Maher has a great story within this anthology! She definitely is a writer to watch out for!!

Stacey Agdern’s Mr. Klein Goes to Albany – 4 stars.
A Canadian hockey player turned diplomat…That alone got me hooked. I can’t help it, my inner Canadian gets excited about Canadian centered stories (that doesn’t mean every Canadian story is good, but this one was)!! This story had me hooked at the start and kept my attention all the way through. I definitely need to pick up more by Stacey! This story was a pleasant surprise! I’m always a little worried about silly Canadian stereotypes, but this story did not disappoint!

Jane Lee Blair’s Take a Knee – 3 stars.
Another story where the author’s writing shines through!! Jane’s story telling is addicting… I’m really interested in the stories she can tell with her voice!!

Thank you Tamsen Parker for sending me this wonderful advanced reader’s copy! It’s a real joy getting these books BEFORE all the spoilers come out – I’m horrible at reading spoilers!! It’s just to tempting…

 

Visit Tamsen parker at www.tamsenparker.com !!
Follow her on Twitter: @TamsenParker or Facebook! www.facebook.com/tamsenparker

Check me out on Goodreads where I post up to date reviews as soon as they happen! Be the first in the know!! Briar’s Reviews on Goodreads

Did you enjoy this review? Check out another one you might enjoy! #BookReview In Her Court by Tamsen Parker

 

#BookReview – Apocalypse the Memoir by CS Oliver

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Apocalypse the Memoir by C.S. Oliver

I am sad to say this book somehow got swept up into my house and disappeared for a while. I remember writing it down on my “to read” list and then being unable to find it. I went through all of my book shelves (there are many) and was annoyed and confused on where it could have gone. I gave up the search until I did a little spring cleaning and found it deep under a couch that didn’t seem like anything could have fit under it. Interestingly enough, I decided it was still in beautiful working condition and that my cats must have stolen it. So, many many reads later – here it is! My review of a book I’ve been dying to read for far to long.

This story centers around Indy, our 15 year old narrator who seems to be in a zombie apocalypse in Canada. It’s a humorous take on what seems to be a very common story now, but this book is unique. This book not only has crazy zombies, but a funny narrator, sassy side characters and an interesting back story.

This novel is brutal and definitely R-rated, but it’s fantastic in a sort of Deadpool way. While you’re cringing at the blood and gore, you’re laughing along with Indy’s thoughts and descriptions. The zombies aren’t exactly your typical slow moving, “let me eat your brains” zombies – they are nasty, predatory creatures that give you a movie-monster-esque vibe. I liked that aspect – slow moving zombies always seem kind of boring to me.

Bonus Points: Canadian cities (I’m a Canadian, what can I say?).

“Are hot dogs miracles?”

If that line doesn’t explain the whole book, I don’t know what does. Reading from the view of a 15 year old narrator, I can definitely say that thought is accurate. I am almost certain at that age that sort of thought would be randomly popping into my head.

This entire book seemed to be written with my sense of humour in mind. I don’t see all readers understanding it, but as I read along I couldn’t help but chuckle. I rarely find books funny, but I related with Indy, our main character, far to much. I really enjoyed her spunky thoughts and I wish more novels had narrators like her – different, odd and absolutely hilarious.

There were two “downfalls” to me for this book:

The biggest downfall of this book was that the conversations in this novel did not have quotation marks around them. That was probably the worst part of this novel – the story was fantastic, the humor was on point, but the lack of quotation marks threw me off a bit. To someone like me, it’s slightly annoying. To most readers? Probably not something that would turn them away from the book.

The second downfall or question I have – was this book all a metaphor? The first half of the book seems like an epic, film ready novel for a zombie dystopia/apocalypse. The second half seemed so interesting and more like a 1984 novel ready to be dissolved and taken apart in an English class. I loved seeing these two kind of smashed together into one book, but it gave me far to many questions. I want to march up to CS Oliver and ask so many questions… But maybe that’s a good thing.

Overall, this book is deemed worthy by me. I definitely want to read more by CS Oliver and I hope any more books created by CS are just as sassy and thrilling!

Four out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

To Wendy’s With Love: the 22-year Lunch by Diane Keyes- BOOK REVIEW

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To Wendy’s With Love: the 22-year lunch is a love letter to all who have a family – blood bond or not.

Diane Keyes has done one miraculous job I had never expected to see in my life – she wrote a novel collecting Wendy’s, family, love, and warm, happy feelings all in one. This book truly hits all the right notes for me – it’s sweet, inspiring, heart melting and everything I needed in my life today. It’s a book that celebrates family – whether it be by blood or through experiences. And I can’t recommend this book enough!

This small but mighty book is a non-fiction recount of how a family came together for lunch once at week at Wendy’s. Diane highlights some of the rough and tough times that will make your heart clench up, but she also delivers some beautiful, motivating stories as well. Your heart won’t be able to take the extravagant roller coaster Diane makes in this book!

One lesson I learned from this book: Family is powerful.
Blood does not always define the family, and Diane shows this. She not only shows her strong bond with her genetically related family, but the friendships and bonds you can make with others. These simple lunches (that seem like such a silly but genius idea) really highlight how one small change (like meeting up with friends once a week) can really affect you!

I truly appreciate Diane’s hard work. You can tell this story is coming from the heart! Not only does it give a historical background, but it gives you an emotional one too. I am totally inspired by this novel, and I recommend everyone who wants a little splash of happiness and empathy in their life to pick this up.

Five out of five stars.

Quick Book Review: Into the Blizzard: Walking the Fields of the Newfoundland Dead by Michael Winter

In honour of Canada Day, here is my review of a book about Canada (well, Newfoundland)!!

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Photo via Goodreads.

Since I am a Canadian, I decided this book would be an interesting read that would enhance my knowledge of Canada. And surprisingly, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected!

I wanted to read the book to gain more knowledge, but I ended up really enjoying the book and getting into it.

The book follows the journey of the author through Newfoundland and past battlefields and grave sites of soldiers. The chapters in this book were short and sweet, but the nicest little gem was how much information and facts that were within the small chapters. Each chapter involved a small journey or task completed by the author, but little facts either about the author’s childhood or the wars were included. These facts, despite being anywhere from one sentence to only a few paragraphs in length, gave an amazing and gigantic insight to how the War was fought and dealt with by soldiers.

The only downfall I saw to this book was how simple some of the language was. The read was smooth and quick, and I didn’t find myself getting bored with the facts and plot laid out in the story. Overall, this book was incredibly well written and a gem I would definitely read again or suggest to anyone who is interested in history, wars, or specifically Canadian history.

I believe this book would help many high school students studying history understand it a bit more (considering the fact that this book would have helped me a lot when I sat bored in history class).

Amazing book! Four out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Book Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

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Photo via Goodreads.

Book Review
Book Title: The Kiss of Deception
Book Author: Mary E. Pearson

Introduction: Indigo sent me this entire series after I won a Twitter contest. I’ve been trying to read it for quite a while but life has been busy. Finally I was able to sit down one Sunday afternoon and binge read it!

Book Review:

Synopsis: Princess Lia decides to run away from her potential marriage, and runs off with her friend Pauline. She meets Rafe and Kaden, and some mischief and adventure pursues on.

This novel follows your typical dystopia/YA novel trope storyline, but is quite beautifully written. As the title suggests, there is deception involved in this book, and some kisses of course (would it even be a YA without some teen angst and romance?!).

I enjoyed this novel, but it was not my favourite. I really had to force myself through the novel. Yes, Mary E. Pearson is absolutely fabulous as writing (every page was so beautiful) but it just wasn’t fast enough for my likes. There were so many terms and languages that flew over my head and made me super bored, but I had to finish this book. I desperately want to finish this series, because I’ve heard amazing reviews about it everywhere.

Our lead female is quite strong, she has her moments but is a quality female lead. I was impressed with the building of all the characters, but Lia was by far my fave. Rafe is so kind hearted and Kaden (our prince) is also quite charming. Pauline seems realistic, Berdi is pretty awesome, and overall I found all the characters to be on point. They were all written and built over time, which is a nice change compared to some YA novels.

This book does slow down quite a bit – so readers beware. The first quarter of the book is fast and incredible, but then the pace slows down as if gravity is trying to pull it back from its super high speed chase of it’s readers. If you love fast paced stories, this might not be the book for you. If you’re okay with the speed changing and just want a super awesome, well developed, fantasy novel – then this is for you!

What I got out of this novel, and what I think readers should take out of it:
The world building is absolutely fantastic! The scenes and descriptions will take you to a whole new world and will have you hooked.
This book has a big focus on love/relationships/babies and all those fancy tropes you get in YA, so be prepared for silly romance, boy obsessed girls, and lots of day dreaming about kisses.
The story takes a while to build up, it picks up speed quickly, then plummets into a cliffhanger.
If you get into this book, it will pull at your heart strings – be warned.
This book is probably rated PG-13, but is a fine book for any pre-teen or teen readers.

Overall, three stars. It was hard to continue reading this knowing there were other fast paced books on my shelf, but I do want to finish this series! It’s worth the read if you like a good fantasy novel and some fantastical descriptions.

Great job Mary. E Pearson!